Counselling Centre Adds Services

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THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay Counselling Centre is helping to improve community services, it was announced earier today. Specialized Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services are expanding in Thunder Bay, bringing new service options to local families that are designed to better protect our community’s children and enhance their quality of life.

Newly accredited Child Protection and Family Mediators and Family Group Decision Making Coordinators were introduced and celebrated at the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre during a ceremony today. Each professional was presented with a certificate of accreditation by Executive Director, Nancy Chamberlain, to acknowledge their extensive training and accomplishments.

Chamberlain says; “This group of trained professionals will help expand the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) within the city of Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie. This is the first time Child Protection Mediators will be available in the North. The new services will help us expand local service options for families and children who are experiencing a breakdown in the court system.”

Extensive ADR training was held in the region over the last year. In total, nine Child Protection Mediators and five Family Group Decision Making Coordinators have now completed the training. Families involved with Child Protection Services may decide to use ADR to try to work out a plan for their family that is acceptable to both the family and Child Protection Services.

The ADR initiative was originally launched back in October of 2009 at a Thunder Bay Counselling Centre event featuring Justice Harvey Brownstone. Brownstone is the author of Tug of War – the first book of its kind that explains how family court works. It provides parents with alternatives to resolve their own custody battles, while keeping their children out of the court system; which can often be a damaging experience for children.

The Child and Family Services Act, as amended by Bill 210 back in 2006, identifies ADR as a strategy to streamline court processes and encourage alternatives to court.

Thunder Bay Counselling Centre ADR Project Manager Connie McLeod says; “There are many benefits for families who use ADR services. ADR provides families with options to resolve their issues in a way that is agreeable to all parties and it enables both sides to have a voice to directly affect the outcome of a case. When children are involved we ensure that the focus remains on the best interests of the children.”

The newly accredited professionals will be working with Thunder Bay Counselling Centre to provide services to families in Thunder Bay and region although services can be coordinated through Thunder Bay Counselling Centre. Currently there is no fee for Child Protection Mediation and Family Group Decision Making as these services are covered by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services;  however there is a fee for family mediation.

ADR may occur in addition to court or may take place instead. For further information on ADR services please contact Thunder Bay Counselling Centre: www.tbaycounselling.com or (807) 684-1880.

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